Enthusiastic In More Ways Than One

With the very first issue of Produce Business, launched 28 years ago to the day at the PMA convention in San Francisco, we began what would become a tradition: To set aside one page, to write a Special Note — a report on the status of our enterprise. It is our annual gesture of a tremendous respect for you, the reader, and for all who make what we do possible.

Indeed, publishing is an odd game. We put ideas, interpretation, data, and analysis out there and then we wait. For it is your decision to utilize these ideas in your work that gives life and meaning to the dry ink on our pages.

Of course, nowadays we are so much more than ink on the page. There are electrons on screens zipping through the ether, digital editions, e-newsletters, the Perishable Pundit and PerishableNews.com; then there are the events, from trade shows and conferences, to share groups, and strategic planning, speeches, consulting and teaching.

In a sense, we are a world away from those days 28 years ago when we had just paper and ink, when we ran cover stories reporting on the “Fax Auction” — a new phenomenon in the industry in which buyers were inundated with daily offers via fax.

Yet, in the essence, it is not so different. Our specialty today, as it was the day we launched, is not to uncover scandalous secrets; it is to identify and define the meaning and significance of events. We then use that information to help people do business better and help the industry, as a whole, to prosper and grow.

So the function is ideas, but ideas are meaningless without people; so, de facto, what we do in print, online and in person, is to find ways for the best ideas and the smartest people to meet.

That is one way that things have changed in the past 28 years. We’ve become more knowledgeable and experienced, and now our “Golden Rolodex” is filled with brilliant people from every corner of the globe. So our ideas are better and our associates smarter.

When one thinks of what to thank people for — associates, vendors, customers, and readers — a big part of it is just the fact that we are still here. It is difficult to overstate the importance placed on the fact that we built this company from scratch. It is one thing to think one has clever ideas, but there is something about having had to sweat out a payroll that concentrates the mind powerfully on the practical.

Yet one thing we never regretted is the time we spent on the thoroughly tangential. Whether it has been going to conferences on the other end of the Earth where we have no business starting magazines in other fields outside of produce where we knew very little, or attending trade shows without a known agenda or reading books or taking courses with no known connection to anything relevant. Few moments are as joyous as sharing a meal or having some time with someone we get a chance to know well. Some people say they do their best thinking when completely at rest; we have found that exposure to new ideas, to stimulating thoughts, leads to better thinking.

Produce Business has always been dedicated to finding ways to help the industry grow. And for 2014, we are taking it to a whole new level. For the trade, we are thrilled to announce that we have joined hands with The Fresh Produce Consortium to announce the launch of The London Produce Show and Conference. This high-end, world-class event will celebrate the importance of produce trade in the United Kingdom, long among the most forward-thinking produce sectors on the globe, yet present this salute in the context of a broader trade show and conference that looks at the U.K. and Europe as a crucial destination for shippers worldwide.

This new industry institution combines with The New York Produce Show and Conference, which we hold with the Eastern Produce Council to cement a transatlantic exchange of ideas and friendship.

In 2014 we will also see the launch of a new magazine in both print and digital formats. It is a hybrid publication that will be read by everyone who is anyone in the trade, but it will be in every Barnes & Noble, every Hudson News outlets at airports and commuter outlets, it will be in many supermarkets, and digital editions will be available on Apple and Android devices.

In other words, it is the industry’s first consumer magazine. It is called PRODUCE ENTHUSIAST, and in an age where every shipper and retailer is using social media and websites to reach out to consumers, it is going to help consumers know how to use more and enjoy more fruits and vegetables.

As for the title, well what can we say? After 28 years we remain, as we began, a true PRODUCE ENTHUSIAST.